Many people are still afraid to get treatment for mental health problems because of the stigma associated with therapy, mental health diagnoses, and going to see a counselor. The costs of avoiding treatment because of the stigma can be severe. For example, if someone is afraid to get treatment for a substance use disorder, then he or she is at risk of continuing to use substances and overdosing. Additionally, if a person with depression does not get psychotherapy due to stigma, then he or she is putting themselves at greater risk for suicide because depression is a risk factor for suicide. Moreover, even if you do not have a severe mental health issue, avoiding counseling due to the stigma associated with it can prevent you from functioning at your highest and living as fulfilling life as you would like to live.
There are different types of stigma and reasons why there is a stigma associated with mental health treatment. One of the main reason is that people falsely conclude there is something wrong with them or they are weak if they receive a mental health diagnosis or get psychotherapy. For example, someone who suffers from PTSD and experiences nightmares, flashbacks, or heightened levels of anxiety may falsely conclude they are weak or something is wrong with them for having those symptoms. Similarly, a person with depression may believe they should always be happy and feeling down or sad is not an appropriate or normal way to respond to life’s difficulties. Further, a person with a drug or alcohol problem may believe there is something morally wrong with them because of their drug or alcohol use. These self-imposed stigmas or beliefs are often perpetuated by societal or cultural stereotypes. For example, people with a mental health diagnosis may be referred to as “nuts” or “crazy”. Additionally, some people may be afraid they will get fired or prevented from getting a certain job in the future if they have a mental health diagnosis or seek psychotherapy.
However, there are healthy ways to counteract and reduce the stigma associated with getting psychotherapy or a mental health diagnosis. The first way is to promote understanding and awareness of mental health diagnoses. For example, often a mental health problem is an understandable response to a set of abnormal circumstances or harsh environment, genetic conditions, trauma, or major loss in life. For instance, it is understandable why a person may develop PTSD if they witness an unexpected death of a loved one, or someone experiences depression for going through a romantic break-up, or a person is prone to certain behavior they witnessed in the environment or home they grew up in. Proper communication about these issues with the right people is similar to how mortgage brokers need to have proper communication with their clients using software like best crm software for mortgage brokers or finding a best flat fee realtor who communicates well with you.
Another way to reduce stigma is to highlight that other well known and successful people have had mental health diagnoses and still accomplished great things in their lives. For example, Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was believed to have Bipolar Disorder. Many believe Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had PTSD after she witnessed the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Thus, knowing that you are not alone and it is still possible to live a high functioning life with a mental health diagnosis is a helpful way to reduce stigma.
Moreover, another way to reduce stigma is to know that treatment is available to manage, reduce, or recover from the symptoms of your mental health diagnosis. There is much more research and treatment available now for mental health problems. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication for treatment. Therapists can offer psychotherapy. Sometimes changes in your diet can help improve mood. Organizations like Fhcp.ca are working to provide best information and practices on food. Further, there are many support groups that can offer social support and practical guidance to help reduce the symptoms. Thus, while a person may have been diagnosed with a mental health diagn